Saturday, November 29, 2008

Featured Rescue - Noah the Labrador Retriever

So I thought I'd post a Labrador Retriever as the Featured Rescue for today. There are still 20,302 Labs listed on

This is Noah. He's a lab mix. He was found in a trap ... doesn't say what kind? He's located in Rochester, NY. If you can offer him a home, he would be eternally grateful.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Training Rant - Bean Bags and Chains

Ok, so I know this lovely Golden Retriever. He's almost a senior, has been owned by the same people from the day he left his mama's side. Lovely story, eh? Well, here's something to think about ... This dog has some agression issues. Mainly it was in and around the food bowl. It started innocently enough, as a puppy, he would growl at his food while eating it as fast as he could. The owners thought it was cute.

**I can NOT stress enough to people ... If it's not going to be cute as an adult, then why is it cute as a puppy?**

Ok, so that sounds not so bad, right? Well as the dog got older, the growling increased. It was so subtle that the owners didn't notice. As the growling increased, so did the obsession. He began turning his head towards people and growling while eating as fast as he could. This increased until it turned into charging.

Well, you know the people didn't notice or worry about it until their own dog started charging at them! Why oh why didn't they care when he was growling??!!? Ok, so now they have realized they have a problem. At this same time, the agression flooded into anything the dog had or wanted ... toys, bones, food, couches, floor space.

So they call a big name dog training team who come in to assess the dog. The company says "no problem, with a little training, we can stop this behaviour!" The company gives them some very detailed instructions, invites them to weekly training sessions and gives the owners a handful of bean bags and chains.

"What is this all about?" ... is what you might be asking if you had experience with dogs. Unfortunately, these people did not and they took the word of these "professionals" as gospel. So they did as they were told. Every time the dog was eating and growling, they threw bean bags and chains at him. The training company said it would "desensitize" the dog.

What do you think this did?? Well, you'd better believe that this increased the behaviour!! I would like to pause in my relaying of the story to say ... asshats! *headdesk, headdesk, headdesk*

At that point, instead of fixing the problem, it got worse (no kidding!). When it was meal time, the people took the food to the kitchen, dropped the bowl on the floor for the dog and were forced to turn and run out of the room for fear that their own dog would attack them.

They have since found a NEW trainer who is helping them to work through these agression issues, but it has become a long and hard struggle when it should have been something so simple to fix! Luckily for the dog, their owners (who may be dumb people!) really love that galoot.

Now I need to say something that may end up controversial and remember, this is my opinion. A lot of people "test" dogs by playing with their food. In the home ... Why would you do that?! What better way to create a food obsession by saying, "here Fido, here's your food ... nah I changed my mind, It's mine ... ok, here's your food ... nah changed my mind". Good grief, just by typing that it makes me frustrated!! I hate to say it, but if I were a dog, I certainly would NOT respond well to that. (Yes, I am aware that many professionals do this, but I don't agree that it is a necessary test)

If you do see signs of agression, please talk to MULTIPLE behaviour specialists, read some books on your own (I recommend any books by Dr. Ian Dunbar, Patricia McConnell, or Karen Pryor), and make your own conclusions about whether or not that professional is offering you sound advice. If you choose to trust that professional, then hire him/her on and have them help teach you how to train your dog.

I would like to suggest that the person should have their CPDT papers (Certification for Pet Dog Trainers), but unfortunately, this does not guarantee that the trainer will be any good with behavioural problems. Most CPDT's are great with obedience, but many aren't versed overly well when it comes to complex behavioural problems (note that I did say "many" ... some are good with behaviours, I'm sure - just not any I've met). For those trainers that I know, the ones that are awesome at training obedience don't know how to deal with serious behaviours, and vice versa.

And please remember people ... there is NO circumstance that would require you to throw chains and bean bags at your dog ... it will only make the behaviours worse and prove to the rest of us that you are an asshat that shouldn't own a dog. Go get a pet rock. I have a few for sale if you'd like?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Police Dog Not Dead.

So get this one ... Dog not dead: Fake K-9 Claim

Two police officers and a police chief have been charged with filing a false police report and filing a false insurance claim. Turns out they lied and said one of their dogs died in a training accident. They then claimed a $5,000 insurance claim. Money ... what some people will do for it, eh?

Here's another article that has a bit more detail.

I know this isn't directly affecting the dog (for all we know, the dog might be happy where it is..), but aren't these guys supposed to be working on the side of "good"?? Upholding the law ... blah blah blah??

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

MA Votes to Ban Greyhound Racing

Forgive me if you were already aware of this, but I thought since I've been talking about such negative things, that I would change the subject! The voters of Massachusetts have spoken and they have approved a state-wide ban on Greyhound Racing.

Read an article that details here. Reports say that dog racing will be slowly phased out by 2010.

For a long time, there has been controversy regarding dog racing and animal rights. What do you think on this?

Personally, I've never been a race fan ...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Puppy Mill vs. Euthanasia

Ok, so I have a question for everyone. This thought started swirling around in my head after my last post about mills being shut down. I have considered it before and tend to waffle back and forth. I know what my ultimate answer is, though it isn't a pretty one. Maybe some of you would like to give your opinion??

Here it is.

Do you think it is better to pull dogs out of a mill only to euthanize them for the lack of space to house them and food to feed them?? (This is assuming that the dogs are fed and watered regularly at the mill, of course) This would prevent the dogs from breeding more and making the problem bigger.

If not, what could the resolution be? We all know that the people running the mill won't stop breeding. Could we give them orders (as in written orders by an APS agent) to sell off all their dogs but keep them until that point??

I know we're going to start playing the politics game here and people would say either they need to be removed or not, but forget all that for now. Or even, how would you deal with that (the politics)?

What's your opinion?

Monday, November 24, 2008

How much is that Doggie in the Window??

So, I'm sure by now we've all read articles asking us not to buy puppies from Puppy Mills, right? But what, by definition is a "puppy mill"?? Well, Wikipedia defines a "Puppy Mill" as such:

- sometimes known as puppy farms[1],
- are large-scale dog breeding facilities that operate under substandard breeding conditions,[2][3]
- causing the development of chronic health problems, temperament issues, and hereditary defects in puppies that come from the mills.[2]

For those who aren't aware, Canadians have been seeing a whole lot of newspaper articles lately about Puppy Mills and Quebec. Quebec has long been known in Canada as a "Puppy Mill Capital". The newspapers are finally pushing this information on us, though this has been a problem for a very long time. Those of us here in Ontario no-kills are constantly taking the Quebec's shelters' overflow because they shutdown large-scale operations multiple times a year and then have nowhere to put the dogs.

Here are two recent articles about Quebec's Mills:
Quebec battles reputation as puppy mill capital
Puppy mill foes turn on pet stores

What can you do? Don't buy that puppy in the window. It may seem like you're "saving" that puppy from the store, but the problem is that there will always be another dog to replace that puppy you saved if you buy it. If you leave it there, it will still get food and water ... it's not like you're leaving it there to die. The puppy may not be enjoying the standards of life that you or I expect dogs to enjoy, but neither are the many dogs and puppies living in your local animal shelter. Why not go save one of those??

The difference between the two dogs?

The pet store dog will be replaced by another and you are giving the Mill another excuse and another reason to keep on breeding (not to mention to potential problems you will have to deal with with a mill puppy).

Unless you're at a no-kill animal shelter (which are few and far between), you are giving that Shelter dog a chance at life. Even if you are at a no-kill shelter, there are always animals that the shelter has to turn away (and in turn, often doom that animal to euthanasia or life on the streets), but if one more animal is adopted from that shelter than that is one more animal that that shelter can help.

Do everyone involved with rescue a favour and don't buy from the pet store. You aren't helping anyone but yourself and the puppy mill that dog came from. Do you have any rescue stories you want to share? I know many people enjoy talking about that so I figured I'd open the panel - feel free to share!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Training Tools - The Walk

Wanted to put in a word about walking your dog. Walking is important, but PLEASE use your common sense! We wouldn't want you to get tasered ... read this article to learn what not to do and how to prevent being tasered while walking your dog. Here is another article about the same guy that is a little more ... well, you'll see.

Please look into the laws of the area you live in. If you are not allowed by law to walk around nude, than chances are good that walking your dog nude is not a good idea. There may be ones you aren't even aware of, such as walking your dog in cemetaries. Check out this article for an example of this and what could happen if the laws of your area dictate that you should not have your dog in a cemetary.

That being said, we all have to remember that walking with your dog is good for them. It provides mental and physical stimulation. They take everything in - people, places, dogs, squirrels, cats, cars, sirens - whatever they see and hear. Walking is as important to their physical health as mental health.

The length of the required walk is, of course, dependent upon the individual animal as well as the goals you have set. If you are walking simply to relieve your dog, than perhaps 15 - 30 minutes will suffice, though I don't recommend that that be all the walking your do that day! If you are walking to provide stimulation and exercise for your dog, then longer will likely be required (probably more than an hour depending on the dog).

The physical state of your dog should not be ignored. If your dog is overweight, underweight or has medical conditions, you will have to adjust your walks and exercise to accommodate.

Walking is an important training tool. If your dog is reactive or has other leash issues, then why don't you go somewhere that you can be pretty sure you can walk without too many distractions? What about a quiet parking lot in an industrial area?

Not all dogs can simply put on a leash and walk down the street. That does take training (though not everyone is aware of that). However, that does not mean that you should neglect this basic tool simply because you have to teach your dog how to use it. It is important.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Featured Rescue - Riggs the Shih Tzu Puppy

An interesting comment was made this week about certain dog breeds and their high demand. Now, please keep in mind it was a simple comment and likely wasn't made to suggest that these dogs should be bred because they are in demand, but I am going to comment on this topic in general. Don't take offense and don't think that I am making this post in reply to the comment. I am simply grabbing the topic and expanding on it. (like my disclaimer?)

While I will agree that certain breeds of small dogs are in "high demand", this does not mean that they should be bred because they are a certain breed. Below are some numbers pulled from today...

There are 1,769 Shih Tzu's or Shih Tzu mixes listed in Petfinder as looking for homes.
684 Bichon Frise
1,019 Boston Terrier
3,890 Dachshund
2,427 JRTs and 633 PRTs
708 Lhasa Apso
604 Maltese

With this many "high demand" dogs currently seeking homes in rescues listed on Petfinder (not to mention all those that are not listed on there!), I don't see that there is too high a demand not being filled. What I do see is that people are too lazy to look for a dog - it's easier just to get their dog from the breeder up the road, right? Of those listed, there are a fair amount that are purebred. There are also a fair amount that are puppies. Yes, many are adult or older dogs, but that is not the whole of it.

Also, if searching for a dog of a specific breed, why not contact a breed-specific rescue? They are not all listed on Petfinder.

Regardless of the breed of dog and whether or not it is in demand as a pet, I still believe there are certain accomplishments that any dog bred should reach before breeding.

I don't believe that dogs should be mixed on purpose since there are so many people who have Oops's in their backyards. That said, IF you DO choose to mix two breeds together, both parents should be registered with a LEGIT registry (I'm thinking AKC or CKC here people) and they should also have something to their name in an accomplishment. Did they win a show? Did they achieve a certain level of Obedience Trials and recieve a prize or acknowledgement? Did they earn a certain level of herding or ... SOMETHING!

I don't believe dogs should be bred without reaching some level of potential and I don't believe that untrained dogs should be bred.

I think that puppy mills should be illegal in all provinces and states and animal control (or Animal Protection Services through SPCAs) should have the ability to charge the people running them. Not only that, I think that they should be charged with hoarding. Maybe give them a fine for every dog that doesn't have a dog license??
I have added this picture of a 16 week old Shih Tzu puppy that is available through rescue.
I hope I've explained my opinion well enough? Is this so?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Sweet Justice - Man who cut off dog's ears

Well, whoever says there is no justice in the legal system of Ontario is only somewhat correct. Turns out that there remains a certain amount of "jailhouse justice". One of yesterday's headlines is:

Man jailed for cutting off dog's ears gets taste of own medicine

Check out the article ... it is an interesting read. I always have to smile when an animal abuser gets something of his/her own medicine.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Asshat Rant - Retire your old dogs, don't dump them!

Every day I could find fodder for an Asshat Rant. That's unfortunate and I wish it weren't so. Today's 'fodder' is only one of many. There are so many out there who do this, that is only one of many. Here's the ad on craigslist. I have screencapped it and jpg so if the ad is removed, you can still view it.

How sad is this? 12 year old beagle needs a new home ... why in the world can't his owners keep him for a few more years and give him the retirement he deserves? Always makes me angry to see this sort of thing. We have one senior dog currently "in the wings" so to speak at the pound and I feel sad for her. She's estimated to be somewhere around 10-12 years old and her owners never came looking. It's always hard to find homes for seniors regardless of how sweet and gentle they are.

If we can give our old dogs one thing, it is to love them to the very end. Were I a dog facing euthanasia in the next couple of years, I would hope that my owners would be there for me and hold my hand until the last. Maybe whisper some nice thing about seeing me on the other side. Something to keep me feeling confident and loved.
When I worked at the vet clinic it pained me everytime someone would bring their animal in for euthanasia and wouldn't stay with him / her. It hurt too much, they would say. Well, how do you think the pet feels? Being surrounded by clinic-smelling people who hold you and put needle in you and then you sleep. How scary is that. For that matter, how do you think the vet tech who is working feels?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Good, The Bad and the Fugly ... Design-A-Puppy

While surfing this week I came across an ... interesting breeder. Company's name is Design-A-Puppy ... Good grief. What will we think of next?? I'm thinking ... beware ... BYBer ... possibly of the worst kind (if there IS such a thing ... 'worst kind' ... perhaps all BYBers belong in this category)!

Taking a parusal around their website, you may note that the only pages that have any info are the Index (home), Designer puppies for sale, Shopping (where you can get some paintings), and Contact Us.

These pages are "Under Construction". About Design a Puppy, Scrapbook Gallery, In The Press. I wonder why their Scrapbook doesn't have all sorts of pictures on it? I'm sure they have many pics of their "little darlings".
I have added these pictures of one of their dogs that was recently "Adopted" (uh ... perhaps they mean "SOLD"??). Personally ... I think it's fugly. What is with those ears? They just don't seem right on that face. Is that eye goop on it's nose? The colour under the eyes doesn't seem to match the rest of the pup's colours ... so I would conclude that it probably is something that most people would want to wash off before taking a pic.

Make your own decisions ... don't take my word for it. What do you think about this breeder? Design-A-Puppy ... WTF?!

Don't forget ... This is only my opinion. What's yours? What do you think??

Monday, November 10, 2008

Training Tools - A Tired Dog

I'm going to touch briefly on my mantra of a Tired Dog is a Good Dog. I know that some people know this - but I wonder some days at how many people know it but don't fully understand it.

I'm sure that we can all agree that your dog is a blank slate waiting for you to teach it. Each and every behaviour is a learned one - whether you meant to teach it, it came with your dog, or it was a behaviour that was inadvertantly rewarded without you realizing it.

So, you want to teach your dog something, but he's bouncing all over the place. Maybe you want to teach how to walk on a leash? Or perhaps you want to teach them something else like a cute trick or rally-o or something. Perhaps a soft skill such as not to eat things off the living room table?? Regardless what you want to do with him - you don't have a dog that is ready to learn if he/she is bouncing all over.

True, some dogs have more energy than others and are often classified as "hyper" dogs. Regardless of the energy level, you can tire a dog out if you try, it just takes different things for different dogs. I've seen dogs with more and less energy, but it's all the same ... it is up to the owner to know their dog and be able to provide him or her with the stimulation that he requires.

You wouldn't try to make a child sit down and learn to read when he's in this state, so why would you try to make your dog do this? It is simply setting the dog (and child!) up for failure. Then it is really the owners who fail the dog, not the dog who fails.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Go to Jail ... Do not pass GO

I was moseying around the internet and found this tidbit about a self-proclaimed "rescue" turned convicted animal abuser.

In the first week of October 2008, Sandra I. Cortes, 44, of Annandale was found guilty by Judge Peter W. Steketee in General District Court of 27 counts of animal cruelty. See the news report on the Washington Post site here. Brenda E. Dodson, 30, a caretaker with the foundation, pleaded guilty to 27 counts of animal cruelty and was sentenced to 18 months in jail and 20 years of supervised probation, during which time she is not to have contact with animals.

Turns out Cortes was running a "rescue" called Assisi Animal Rescue Foundation. They were originally charged in May 2008, but their latest court date was early October. If you would like to read the info on, here's the link.

Their original website was according to this Washington Post article. Of course, the site is no longer working.

Cortes, Dodson ... I have something to say ... Go directly to jail. Do not pass Go. Pay lots of legal fees. Hope you go broke. Stop posing as a rescue - you drag their names down to your muddy level when you do. *Asshats. Asshats. Asshats.*

Friday, November 7, 2008

Featured Rescue - Calli the Cocker Spaniel

For those interested in a Cocker Spaniel, why not consider adopting one from a shelter? This is Calli. She was a mother at a puppy mill. She is living with a foster home who has reported that she is coming along well.

There are currently 2,365 Cocker Spaniels available for adoption from shelters and rescues across North America.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Training Tools - Choke Chain

So, how many people out there have been told that their dog should be trained on a choke chain? I was told I should use one for my reactive dog.

I know they work and I know that some people swear by them. Personally, I don't like using them. We are required to use them at the Pound for all the dogs that come in (with no history on the dog, it is difficult to work with anything else), but on my own dogs, I don't. (Once I've worked with a Pound dog for about a week, I will usually switch to a martingale collar, but that is another post!)

I like using positive methods - such as rewards - for proper heels and not pulling on leash. I know a lot of people find that the quick-tug works for their dogs. Although it can work for some dogs, it doesn't for others. Each dog is different and training should be different for each accordingly.

Personally, I have found that the quick-tug doesn't work well for many dogs and have had much more success with more dogs by using positive rewards (toys/treats/etc).

Do you use a choke chain? Have you used one in the past? Would you consider using one if you ended up with a large dog (possibly close to the same weight as you?) that was reactive on leash or would you use something else??

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Breeding - ACA and Puppy Mills

I did a little research in the last week or so about an organization called American Canine Association (ACA). Why did I do this research? Well, I had contacted a breeder and asked if their dogs are registered. When I received their response, it said that their dogs were all registered with ACA, I decided to do a google search and see what I could come up with.

ACA is a dog registry, yes. After parusing through the web site, I found little evidence that the requirements for registering are any higher than an ant hill. You need to report the dog's colour, breed, tattoo and microchip (if it has one). Then you need to attach any files about the dog from your computer. Online, they will only take payment through your credit card. Here is their Web Site.

Of course, continuing my research brought me closer and closer to full understanding.

This is a web forum discussion about ACA that touches on the topic of puppy mills and BYBers.

Here's a Yahoo Answers FAQ sheet that tells you the differences between ACA and AKC. There were some comments about ACA being a bogus registry that puppy mills use. There is even some info about AKC.

One more interesting posting about Mills and ACA. Yet another instance where ACA is in a bad light.

Here's one site that explains how to spot a puppy mill. This is probably the best one I found that looks at the facts. It discusses both the AKC and the ACA in a different light than any other place I had looked (so far).

Have you run into ACA in your travels through the dog world? What were your experiences with it?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Training Rant - Couches

Well, life is a bit crazy at home right now. We're dog sitting, so we have 5 dogs at home. Now, normally 5 dogs is not a problem - provided they are all trained properly and are able to live together. Don't forget we live in a 900 sq ft loft. Yes, we have acreage outside, but the indoors are somewhat lacking for space. We have had to do some retraining with the 2 extra dogs and I thought I'd drop a short line about it here. The first target for a training rant? Couches. They are mine. You can use them, but ask first.

Both these dogs think that our furniture are their playthings. I understand that they are little - both Cocker mixes - but it's like they don't know how to play without jumping all over my furniture.

So here's my disclaimer, I don't have an issue with dogs on the furniture, but it is a priviledge that should not be abused. Our dogs are all allowed on the furniture, provided there is enough room and they ask first. These two dogs don't. They are all over the place, jump on the furniture, jump all over people/dogs/cats with no regard and don't bother to think twice about it.

Now, I have a 14 year old Cocker/Beagle mix who really does NOT like to be jumped on. These two are a bit much for her. She sort of pushes herself into the couch corner and makes herself as little as possible.

So, we are working on livingroom manners. They are allowed on the couch, but only if they ask first. They are NOT to jump on or roll on top of people or other animals while on the couch, or they are told to get off. So far they seem to be learning ... I just hope they figure it out before my oldest dog takes a chunk out of them!

Do your dogs get up on couches and chairs? Do you have certain rules for this or is it a free for all?

Monday, November 3, 2008

Featured Rescue - Sebastian the Boxer

Boxers are beautiful, often misunderstood dogs. They can be high energy or can be quite calm and cool. Today, there are 5,844 boxers available through that are looking for new homes through rescue.

Sebatian is one of those many dogs. He is about 1 year old and is currently located in NY State. If you can offer a place in your home for Sebastian, contact Best Friends Boxer Rescue